Tarheels During the Civil War

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gettysburg After Action Reports

Today is the 146th anniversary of the start of the battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3 1863). Over the next few days I'm going to post several after action reports from different North Carolina regiments. All these are taken from the "War of the Rebellion: the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies." Cornell University has the complete records available online here: http://digital.library.cornell.edu/m/moawar/waro.html
I will start with Colonel Bryan Grimes of the 4th North Carolina State Troops (Ramseur's Brigade, Rodes' Division, Ewell's Second Corps). Written July 19, 1863 it is as follows:

Sir: In compliance with orders, I have the honor of submitting the following report as the part taken by the Fourth North Carolina State troops, under my command, in the engagements around Gettysburg, Pa:
On Wednesday, July 1, we were encamped near Heidlersburg, and were under arms and on the march by sunrise. About 4 p.m. arrived near the battlefield, and formed in line of battle, being on the left of our brigade. After resting a few minutes, were ordered to advance in line of battle, which was soon countermanded. and then moved by the right flank. After proceeding a few hundred yards, this regiment, together with the Second, were recalled by Major-General Rodes, and posted on a hill to repel any attack from that quarter, as at that time there were indications of an advance on the part of the enemy. This position was parallel with the road, down which the other two regiments of our brigade had moved.
After a very few minutes,- the enemy not advancing, and a regiment of theirs had been seen obliquing to the left instead of advancing toward us- General Rodes ordered me with the Second Regiment to advance. After getting from under cover of the hill, we were exposed to a severe, galling, and enfilading fire from a woods to our right, which compelled me to change front toward the right. We then advanced upon the enemy, joining our brigade, and driving them in great confusion, and, but for the fatiguing and exhausting march of the day, would have succeeded in capturing a very large number of prisoners. As it was, we captured more by far than the number of men in the command; but the troops were too exhausted to move rapidly, as they could otherwise have done. We were the first to enter the town of Gettysburg, and halted to rest on the road leading to Fairfield. We remained in that position during that night and Thursday.
On Thursday evening, about dusk, we advanced to make a night attack upon the enemy's works; but when we had approached to within a few hundred yards, and drawn the fire of their pickets, which wounded several of my men, we were recalled, and placed in the road, where we remained until 3 a.m. on Saturday morning, at times subjected to severe cannonading, when we were taken to the crest of the hill in our rear, which position we retained until Sunday morning [4th], when we were withdrawn.
Too much cannot be said in praise of both officers and men of my command. All conducted themselves (with a few exceptions) most admirably.
Appended is the list of casualties during the engagement.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Bryan Grimes,
Colonel Fourth North Carolina State Troops
Capt. Seaton Gales, Assistant Adjutant General

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